Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stuff and things

Hurricane Ike
Yes, we went through it; no, we weren't hurt. It was actually pretty cool, if a little scary. Our trees were all okay and we mostly just got a bunch of debris. Olivia slept through the whole thing, Steven stayed outside and watched the whole thing from our porch, and I did a combination of the two. You can see pics on his blog. Our power came back on a mere 18 hours after it went out, making us more popular than we'd ever previously been. We contributed our privileged assets to the creation of two birthday cakes, the preservation of several pounds of cheese and chicken, the running of a generator, and the feeding, cooling, and entertainment of many people. We were more than happy to share, and very grateful to have been so safe and comfortable.

On Monday Olivia and I flew out here to help take care of my little sister while my parents are out picking up my younger brother from a religious mission in Indonesia. I've been struck by how interesting it is being back in my parents house after having a house of my own. It's a different situation to be here while they are not, as I am more proprietor than guest, and yet at the same time not.

I love my parents and have a lot of respect for them. Still, I honestly have nightmares about living with them again, not because they are in any way distasteful people, but simply because parts of their lifestyle drive me absolutely crazy. My born family is loud; I am not and greatly dislike being around loud and excessive talking. My parents keep clutter everywhere; I can't stand having a bunch of "stuff." They like to argue and hem and haw about trifles; I prefer to be straightforward and decisive, and hate arguments (however, I am not afraid of confrontation when it is needed). Since my parents are not here, many of these things are not issues, but there are little things all over that remind me of that, and also just little details that drive me batty - impractical cleaning supplies, an overabundance of VHS tapes, unintuitive organization (onions in the broom closet?), too much of some things and not enough of others.

What I need to keep reminding myself is that, regardless of my current responsibility, this is still my parents' house - and regardless of my relationship to them, I really have no ownership or responsibility to it. There's nothing wrong with my parents or the way they live. Like I said before, they're very good people and they're happy. They're also very intelligent and capable of taking care of themselves and their home, and all I can and should really do is note the differences, respect our respective independences, and go about my way. As an adult, I can choose the way I run my house, the way I decorate and organize my cupboards and populate my fridge. I can choose my own family, choose a husband who matches my temperament and values the same things I do, and raise our kids to value those things too.

And when my kids grow up, they can come back to visit us and shudder about how quiet we are and how Mom keeps her onions in the PANTRY. Sheesh.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Alphabetical Me

A. Attached or single? Attached

B. Best friend? Steven...and Olivia. I'm not saying that to be smarmy. She really is fun to hang out with, and she's the person I spend the most time with.

C. Cake or pie? PIE. No contest at all.

D. Day of choice? Friday, I guess

E. Essential item? Chapstick

F. Favorite color? Olive green

G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears, although just about any amount of candy gives me a headache

H. Hometown? Porterville

I. Indulgence? Reading and napping, often sequentially

J. January or July? January

K. Kids? About one and a half

L. Life isn’t complete without: People who depend on you

M. Marriage date? August 12

N. Number of brothers & sisters? Three each, in laws not included (but there are plenty of those)

O. Oranges or apples? Oranges, no question

P. Phobias? Being alone for too long - anyone who knew me growing up might find this humorous

Q. Quotes? "

S. Season of choice? Fall

T. Tag seven peeps! Um, no. I saw this on a friend's blog and wasn't tagged myself, but wanted to do it anyway. You may do the same.

U. Unknown fact about me? I have very dexterous toes, which I often use subconsciously to do tasks. I'm basically a monkey.

V. Vegetable? Artichokes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts

W. Worst habits? Picking ingrown hairs out of my legs (and my husband's face)

X. X-ray or ultrasound? Ultrasound

Y. Your favorite food? I've said before that I love green olives. I also love fresh pineapple, but not on pizza.

Z. Zodiac sign? Aquarius

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This morning I decided to take Olivia to go explore Old Town Humble - that is, Main Street in Humble. I'd heard that there were some shops and it was supposed to be the town's historic district. (Puh-snort.) It turned out to be one of those sad, sun-baked streets lined with crippled store fronts that become occupied intermittently either by unrealistically hopeful boutiqueurs or disappointingly pragmatic bail bondsmen. Most of the shops wore blank expressions and boasted the single accessory of a faded "For Lease" sign.

We ended up strolling down past the railroad tracks (we did get to see a train crossing, the highlight of the morning) and looking around a Latino grocery store before we turned around to walk back on the other side of the street. Being in areas like that always makes me ponder and theorize on ways that one might possibly invigorate the area. What would it take; what kind of store or business or initiative could one possibly bring in to resurrect it? Part of the problem is that people need to have money in order to spend it, and then they need to feel an impetus to spend it, and to spend it in a specified location. And a big problem with me taking on the role of savior for this area is that I don't believe in forcing people to spend money on things they don't need, and I'm no Music-Man-type salesman who wants to create those needs. I look at old shops and houses and feel sad and wistful that they aren't occupied, but the only worthy solutions I can think of are schools and charities and stores that sell useful things, not knickknacks.

We ended our journey at a used book store. It was actually open, so I decided to go in and look around. My mental journey during our walk had almost convinced me that I had to at least try to spend some money in this area, and books, at least, are worthwhile.

Alas, upon walking in I was reminded that only SOME books are worthwhile. Basically, the store's inventory consisted of rows and rows of shelves and stacks of tattered paperback smut. I steered Olivia through hundreds of thousands of bodice-ripping covers to the back of the store, where I sifted through maybe 100 thinner volumes to find a few worthwhile paperbacks: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Henry Huggins, Shabanu, The Cay, and a few others. All of them were very well worn; several had "DISCARD" stamped on the front covers.

I took them up to the front of the store, where I was informed that the store sold all its books for half of their original publisher's price. All of them. Meaning that I could get my 20-year-old, badly used, DISCARDed copy of Henry Huggins for a mere $2.

I thought about informing the lady that I was absolutely certain that I was the first person who had been in her store all day and could very likely be the only customer she would see all week, and she would be lucky to GIVE me the books just so she could record a transaction. I thought about telling her that her profit margin on these books would exceed just about anyone's if she gave me the whole bunch for a dollar. I thought about telling her that she could bribe a local hoodlum (or a community-minded Boy Scout) to set a match to the whole place, and she could gain almost as much from the insurance company as society would gain from the disappearance of her inventory.

Instead, I told her kindly that thank you very much, but I wasn't interested in paying that much for used books. She replied that if I brought in some of my own books, I could have them for 15%.

I smiled and left. No thanks.